Kevin Levin, on his blog at “Civil War Memory,”has a post discussing the revival of a Dedication Day ceremony in Fredericksburg, VA:
I am delighted to hear that residents of Fredericksburg, Virginia have resurrected a civic ceremony that was lost as a result of reunion between white Northern and former Confederates. For a number of years after the war the black residents of the city took part in annual marches on Decoration Day to the cemetery to commemorate the bravery of United States soldiers and the cause for which they fought. Those early commemorations constituted a living reminder that the war had profound results for millions of slaves and that its memory would be incomplete without the acknowledgment of emancipation and freedom.
As we all know, however, our own commemorative choices are never simply about the past. They are often reflections of our current political, cultural, and social concerns and this can clearly be discerned in some of the personal reflections of those who attended yesterday. I was struck by the attention to current racial politics. The assumption or hope seems to be that the resurrection of this particular practice may reveal common ground for the healing of racial divisions in the community.